by Daphne Lambert
Comfrey is the common name for plants in the genus Symphytum.
The most commonly used species is Russian comfrey - Symphytum x uplandicum, a naturally occurring hybrid of two wild species: common comfrey - Symphytum officinale and rough comfrey - Symphytum asperum.
Comfrey has been cultivated as a healing herb since at least 400BC.
It is one of the best herbs for reducing swellings and if applied to the area around broken bones will soothe and reduce the inflammation and help mend the bones hence the nicknames ‘boneset’ & ‘knitbone’
Used to help heal bruising
Promotes healing broken & fractured bones
Encourages new skin cell growth
Helps heal torn ligaments
Helps relieve muscle ache
Helps to prevent scarring
Tear up about 350g of comfrey leaves by hand and pack into a ½ litre sterilised glass jar, cover with olive oil securely fix a lid and give a good shake. Make sure the oil completely covers the leaves.
Leave to steep in a warm place for a month. Strain through muslin squeezing out every bit of oil.
Bottle & store.
Do not use internally
Do not use if pregnant or breastfeeding
Consult a medical herbalist for more advice
Comfrey can be used to create a powerful liquid fertiliser, as well as a compost activator to produce enriched compost. It can create a fertiliser base within the soil, as well as a mulch on top. You can also use the dead leaves to make leaf mould as a nutritious potting compost. Comfrey leaves contain the vital nutrients of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium – all of which are needed by growing plants. These nutrients are released as the leaves decay.
Research suggests that Russian comfrey that you grow in the garden has a higher mineral content than common comfrey that you find growing wild on river banks and damp places in Britain & most of Europe. Use either, but wear gloves when you pick comfrey, because the hairs can irritate.
Fill a bucket or barrel with water and add roughly a couple of kilos of cut or bruised leaves to every 15 litres of water. Cover and leave for 6 weeks. The end result is a liquid with a slightly noxious smell but you get used to it!
You can use this liquid feed undiluted excellent instant source of food for tomatoes, aubergines, peppers, squash, pumpkins and sweetcorn.
The leaf residue can be added to the compost.
If you want to grow a patch of comfrey in the garden it is recommended you plant Symphytum x uplandicum - 'Bocking 14' . which is a sterile cultivar that produces copious quantities of nutrient dense biomass.
Root cuttings are best planted out in the spring choose your site bearing in mind that comfrey is a very vigorous grower and once established difficult to get rid of. It will thrive in most soils except shallow and chalky and is fine in sun or shade.